Court Refuses to Release Bishops’ Emails Subpoenaed by Abortion Group
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the privacy rights of Texas bishops Thursday, affirming a ruling that an abortion group does not have a right to the bishops’ internal communications.
The court rejected the pro-abortion group Whole Woman’s Health’s July 30 request for a rehearing Thursday, upholding its previous decision that the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is under no obligation to turn over its internal communications on topics of abortion.
The court pointed to “constitutional protection of religious belief” in its ruling and noted that the abortion group’s effort to obtain full access to the bishops’ internal affairs “looks like an act of intimidation.”
Thursday’s ruling comes after Whole Woman’s Health sued the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops in December 2016 over its support for a Texas law requiring abortion facilities to cremate or bury aborted babies. A federal court blocked the law from taking effect.
The bishops supported the Texas law and offered to provide free burials and cremations, The Catholic News Agency first reported Thursday. Whole Women’s Health filed a subpoena in March 2018 requesting access to all of the bishops’ communications about abortion.
The conference provided more than 4,000 pages of communications with outside parties, but refused to disclose its internal communications.
“The Fifth Circuit correctly protected the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, a non-party, from an overly broad demand by an abortion group for internal communications,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement, applauding the court’s initial ruling. “In making such an erroneous demand, abortion advocates succeeded only in demonstrating that they are willing to violate the Constitution to further their pro-abortion agenda.”
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